New chief of transplantation surgery joins UF

Published: March 30th, 2012

Category: InsideUF, Note This

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Dr. Jeffrey Fair has joined the University of Florida College of Medicine’s department of surgery as chief of the division of transplantation surgery.

Fair, an accomplished transplant surgeon and an innovator in liver stem cell therapies, comes to UF from the University of California at Los Angeles’ David Geffen School of Medicine where he was a professor of surgery and served as director of translational research in Cedars-Sinai Medical Center’s department of surgery.

UF Department of Surgery Chairman Dr. Kevin Behrns said Fair brings vast experience in transplantation of the liver, kidney and pancreas to the division, which focuses on abdominal organ transplantation.

“He previously built successful programs that delivered exceptional clinical care and made novel discoveries in liver research,” Behrns said. “His leadership will provide an outstanding foundation for sustained success in transplantation.”

Fair earned his medical degree at East Carolina School of Medicine and completed a fellowship in kidney and liver transplantation at Johns Hopkins Hospital and a fellowship in pancreas transplantation at University of Minnesota Hospital. Fair served in the U.S. Army Reserve Medical Corps from 1990 to 2004.

Before working at UCLA and Cedars-Sinai, he was a faculty member in the department of surgery at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine in Chapel Hill. During that time, Fair rose to the rank of professor, served as the chief of transplantation and worked with Oliver Smithies, a Nobel laureate who shared the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 2007 for work using stem cells to modify genes in mice.

His research interests include using stem cells to restore function to damaged or diseased livers through gene therapy, and to grow new, healthy liver cells in patients whose livers do not function properly. Doing so, he said, may one day help some patients avoid liver transplants.

Fair is especially hopeful this therapy could help children who suffer from urea cycle disorders, a category of hereditary conditions that render the liver unable to properly dispose of ammonia produced by protein digestion. Urea cycle disorders “cause severe neurologic damage and then, ultimately, severe mental retardation or death,” he said.

The procedure also may help people with liver cirrhosis, hemophilia and other diseases.

As the division moves forward, Fair plans to improve its research, educational and clinical missions and build on state-of-the-art transplantation practices.

“We plan within five years to be considered as one of the top 10 programs in the country,” Fair said.

He and his wife, Lyn Fair, have three grown children.

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